My 25th high school reunion will be going on without me this year. I have never been back to a reunion and doubt I ever will. I never wanted to be there in the first place. My pleas to go to boarding school started fairly early, but suffered from a couple of things. First was timing. The whole father getting sick and dying thing. Then there was the whole not having any money thing. Still, I had always believed in thinking big and reaching. Most of the time that approach served me well, but this time I didn't even try. I let high school kick my ass instead.
The school work wasn't what did it. I was bored with that. My way of finding challenge was to see how little work I could do without anyone noticing. I had one teacher who pushed, somehow getting a thrill out of getting kids to think beyond going to the University of Maine at Orono. But otherwise, if you seemed like you were going to graduate, the teachers had other things to worry about, like lunch. Coasting was easy. And left me with some really stellar study skills, but back to that later on.
Socially, I was just all wrong. For some bizarre reason, sororities existed and were Very Important. My much older sisters had been members of one, and they did the legacy thing, so I didn't worry at first. Then it became clear that sorority would not be inviting me to join. And neither would any of the others. The high school mind makes some interesting translations and calculations. I was all wrong in so many ways.
My solution? Get outta Dodge. But there were the problems I already mentioned, so getting out had to wait a few years. I found the college I wanted, a serious reach in every way imaginable, and enlisted the help of the aforementioned teacher. When it was suggested at my interview that I shouldn't bother to apply, and that I couldn't afford the application fee, I decided to apply for early decision. I didn't have a "plan B" so if I wasn't getting in I wanted to know it in December. April was too late.
Apparently there are some bizarre things going on in the minds of college admissions officers too because they admitted me. That was "the goal" for so long I didn't give a lot of thought to what I would do once I got there. Those really stellar study skills were not much help. Nor was the enormous amount in insecurity I brought with me, especially when faced with what looked to me like a sea of good breeding, boarding schools, and J. Crew. It was a major case of "be careful what you wish for." Instead of high school kicking my ass, now I had an elite college kicking it even harder, and though I was getting some substantial financial aid, I was paying for the privilege.
Where was Eleanor Roosevelt, and her wise words, when I needed her? "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." And boy, did I consent. Up, down, and sideways. And now, as an associate class agent, I get to ask those people who intimidated me to donate money back to the school. Oh, the irony.
But that's college and we're spending today in high school. And not going to reunion. You would think after 25 years I would be sufficiently comfortable in my own skin to go back and face the bad 80s music. Nope. Not a chance.